Student Rights

Free legal help for students, parents & caregivers

Separated parents

If my child doesn’t live with me at all, can I still access information held at their school?

Yes. All parents, including those who don’t have day-to-day care of their child, and all non-parent guardians, should usually:

  • be given copies of their child’s school reports
  • be able to participate in PTA and other school functions
  • get information about school trips, camps and other activities
  • be contacted by the school if urgent medical treatment is necessary
  • be able to attend parent-teacher interviews (parents who are separated can ask that these be held separately for each parent).

Depending on their age and maturity, students may withhold their consent to information being given to their non-custodial parent. Schools may withhold information on these grounds.

For more details about this area, see “Parents getting information from the school”.

However, schools will have to follow any court order or written parenting agreement that deals with the release of information to either parent.

What happens when separated parents can’t agree on aspects of their child’s schooling?

If parents can’t agree, either of them can apply for a Family Court order to decide the issue.

This may include:

  • Religious education – Schools can generally rely on one parent’s permission for the child to attend religious education. However, if there’s a disagreement, the school should try to get permission from both parents, or follow any relevant court order.
  • L v H (1996)

    Photographs – Schools can provide photographs to parents, unless there’s a court order preventing it. In one case where a father who didn’t have day-to-day care asked for photographs of his child, the judge refused this, ruling that the father’s request was for his own benefit, not the child’s, who was actually frightened of him.